|At this point in my pregnancy, my maternity T-shirt fails to cover the bottom of my belly. I regularly see this fashion faux pas while at the OBGYN (and, frankly, the grocery store in West Duluth), so I'm going to assume it's all cool in preggo land.|
Here is the thing: I don't think there will ever be a point where I will blacken the final item on some fictitious to-do list, prop my feet on a duffle bag containing three nightgowns, Chapstick and an Us Weekly, score 100 percent on some set of parenting pop quiz Flash Cards, sigh and say, "Now I'm ready."
Not today, not in five weeks, not in six years.
Canceling out the state of being ready-ready, truly ready by the definition of ready, I would like to say that I'm soft ready. I'm ready despite not being ready. I want to meet this squirming eel, this blueberry aficionado, this alien arm shark-finning across my midsection, this PBG who I've already decided, simply by the way her whacky little leg finds unique cubbies to lodge, is such a charmer. So adorable. Really has an advanced sense of humor. I can't wait to have a handstand contest with her in the front yard. Me, in my 40s with an ever-changing center of gravity; Her, pre-K, with the energy of both her parents times a zillion.
This excitement level divided by five more weeks is the most grueling answer to a math problem. Ever.
The doctor checked her heartbeat this week and then asked:
"What's your guess?"
He was a little ramped, that fever that infects people who are close to vacation.
"145?" I asked.
He flipped the monitor to Chuck, nodded, flashed it at me. It was 147.
"What's this?" he asked, guiding my hands to my upper left quadrant.
I prodded the baby part.
"Butt," I said. "It's a little squishy."
"She's right!" he said to Chuck. "She knows her baby!"
I slid off the table, tugged my clothes back into position.
"Sometimes the butts are squishy," the doctor said. "They can be hard, too."
"I know mine used to be," I said. "Before all of this."
Nobody likes my jokes.
I'm at this thing and everyone wants to talk about this science project that is turning the pattern on my dress into something like a Magic Eye puzzle.
"The only thing more beautiful than a woman is a pregnant woman," an elderly man whispers into my ear.
"You want my advice?" another elderly man says. "Just love that kid. Just love it. Because you blink and it's graduating. You blink and it's getting married. You blink and it's having its own kids. Just love it."
"I still miss the feel of a baby pressed against my neck," a woman tells me. She mimes the act of holding a baby. Her kids are older than me.
In each case I quickly excuse myself to avoid projectile tears.
Me: There is just a little bit of milk left. Are you going to need that for your breakfast tomorrow, or do you think it's more important that our daughter benefit from the calcium?
Chuck: Hm ... You know, she's probably fine. You've eaten a LOT of cheese tonight.
It occurs to me that I've begun wielding my belly as a weapon. Or at least a form of manipulation. I was at the grocery store today and a man was taking up too much space at the self checkout so I nailed him with my hand cart and when he whipped around to be pissed about it, I exaggerated my waddle and said "sorry" in a way that sounded wonderfully insincere.
"I'm so proud of you," Chuck texted back to me when I told him about it.